Mental Health Assignment One

1068-relax-and-succeed-let-go-of-your-cup-of-yesterdayOne of two things happens. Either you’ve already failed at your traditional New Year’s resolutions and you’re happy to restart, or you’re a person who’s more rigid about your commitments and so it feels weird to start this coming Monday instead of on the 1st. But then, that was secretly my first lesson to you….

Who cares where the planet is in relation to the sun when you decide to make changes? Why is the 1st important? Or why target 365 days? You’re not a planet, you’re a person. Your life happens in moments and you can enact health in any moment of any day. Someone you love may be dying and yet you can still feel grateful that their doctor is so good. So remember: you don’t succeed or fail all at once. Each moment is its own opportunity. Every new moment is a restart in the world of mental health.

I want to state that very clearly once more to make sure you’re going into this in a healthy, productive way: the people who are happier, more productive and more connected than you all still have death, disease, accidents, heartbreak, betrayals and trouble to deal with. Seriously. You don’t improve your life by making those things go away.

1068-relax-and-succeed-dont-carry-your-mistakes-aroundYou need to take today and really dispel the idea that you can truly “succeed.” If a champion athlete hasn’t won their first championship yet, are they succeeding or failing at the gym? Or, if they never won a championship but they met their partner at an athletic event, was that succeeding or failing? Did you really want the trophy more than the spouse?

Also, anticipate that it would be very weird if you won 100% of the time. That would be so boring you wouldn’t even do that. Otherwise, why aren’t all of your games against people you know you could beat? Without challenge life has no flavour. We’re not here just to burn calories. We’re here to live, and that means overcoming challenges and growing in capability as a result.

Anticipate days where you’ll struggle. Accept them as valid stones to step on as you cross the water. It’s true, they’re slipperier and more likely to cause to go in, but there’s also no way to move around the lake of life without stepping on some. And you get better as you go. Again, everyone deals with those, even the people whose lives you think are fantastic. They just don’t take a fact and then make it worse with a bunch of fearful thinking.

1068-relax-and-succeed-your-past-mistakesSo what do you do with the fearful thinking? Well that’s the thing, if it’s fearful generally your words are running away with your psyche in your head. You need to employ some detachment. Understand that your thoughts will lead to brain chemistry that will match your thoughts. The trick is, they’ll also appear to you to match the situation, so that’s where you’ll get confused.

That brain chemistry and your emotional reaction are not coming from the world and they are not happening to you. (Read that again.) Your emotions are from your thinking and they are generated by you. Most people leap to thinking that should mean that if they’re your thoughts that you should be able to change them whenever they want. Except those thoughts aren’t yours in the way you currently believe they are, but that’s too much to explain now. You’ll just know that when you’re thinking dies down enough so don’t worry about it. That will happen naturally.

1068-relax-and-succeed-success-is-buried-on-the-other-sideSo here’s your assignment: all you need to do today is to find two or three short biographies of people you admire; people you consider successful. And then read through them and note how nicely all of the really hard, painful parts are written about. “After overcoming that challenge so-and-so poured their heart into their new album…” Oh wait, you mean that rock star had to go through the pain of a divorce to write those great songs? Find their pain. Make them more like you, because you’re more like them than you realise.

Do it. Find the bios. Read them on Wikipedia or in an article. Just take some down time that you would have used to shop or surf the internet and instead do this and start your route to better health. Do the work to dispel the quiet lie you’ve always told yourself. The people you want to be don’t have better lives than you, they just have more control over their thinking. That is a do-able task for all of us, so you can relax until Monday. We’ll start there and we’ll get you where you’re going one moment at a time. Have a wonderful weekend.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Day to Day Spirituality

As I’m ageing I’m more interested in using things like Buddhism to help calm my busy days down but I’m so busy I never get time to meditate or anything. Do you have
any tips for finding time to be spiritual?

Timeless Seeker

Dear Timeless Seeker,

Can you see how you assumed that your regular life was separate from your spiritual life? Have you ever travelled to Asia? If so, unlike in North America or Europe, did you notice how people’s spirituality is sprinkled throughout their day? In places like Thailand or Cambodia etc. there will be little shrines everywhere with offerings of Coke and Twinkies and chips etc. You see monks all over the streets and in general a much larger percentage of the population is 291 Relax and Succeed - Can I call you backsomewhat engaged with their spirituality on a daily basis. Only in the West did we fit spirituality into a single day with only the most devout doing any work the rest of the week. In fact, far too often people are praying for the weak on one day and preying on the weak every other day.

If you’re alive you’re being spiritual. The only question then is, how conscious are you? Do you realize that your business dealings have a spiritual nature? The way you raise children and interact with friends is spiritual in nature. Even the way you drive is spiritual, which I referenced last year in my past blog, Inevitables. In fact a lot of the issues people are struggling with are precisely because they keep seeing their spirituality as separate from their life rather than than seeing their life as a manifestation of their spirituality or lack thereof.

So the fact is, you have ample time to be spiritual, you just have to understand spirituality differently. It is a prayer to show patience. It is a spiritual offering to be generous. In bed, rather than re-hashing your day or planning tomorrow, you can be developing a quiet mind, or during a stressful time you can meditate on gratitude. Kindness, friendship, compassion, appreciation, laughter, joy, creative work and especially love are all very spiritual acts. Rather than thinking about these things while you do them, instead invest yourself completely in the act and forget about judging it. The only self-talk debates you should be having would be to self-debate/meditate yourself out of a state of ego. So if you want to use your thoughts to put yourself back on track that’s fine, or to use self-talk to help to understand a spiritual concept—those are all meditations. But the rest is simply your ego judging and wanting and complaining about what is.

291 Relax and Succeed - If the only prayer you saidDo not cove your spirituality into parts of your day, have your day emerge from your spirituality. Yes, it will feel odd at first to prioritize things like patience or assistance or generosity. You’ve been sold your entire life on the ideas of selfishness, separation and accomplishment. Rather than joining others as an equal and falling in love, you’re encouraged to win. And what you win is ego-status or materialism. You get stuff or you get things that only exist in other people’s consciousness like a good reputation or status or wealth. These are not things that exist on a spiritual plane. There are no coffins with storage spaces for your reputation, title or money. Instead invest in the real you. The eternal you. Because that’s who you really are, and that’s who you’re always Being whether you’re choosing to be conscious of it or not.

I wish you every good fortune in your exercises. Make it a game to find more and more ways and times to be consciously involved in your spirituality. Let rushed people into line-ups, work on being kinder and develop healthier relationships with co-workers, spend your lunch being quiet-minded rather than on social media.

The upside is that this blog is spiritual in nature, so at least the time you spent doing this was a complete success on the being spiritual front—good for you! Now go do that with the rest of the day. Turn your phone off at lunch and just experience the world itself with your five senses. Shut your yakking monkey-mind up and just Be. You’ll be surprised how just that one small change will alter your life.


peace. s

The Friday Dose #1

As my regular readers know I’ve slightly changed my format this year for Monday through Thursday. Fridays I had historically always posted a video, a re-blog, an article or an audio clip. I had originally planned to continue that plan this year as well—and I will, in a way. What changed it was that as I sat down to write the first one of this year I had something 283 Relax and Succeed - Change the way you look at thingshappen that’s never happened in all the time I’ve written this blog—I got stuck. I wrote three different versions but I didn’t like any of them. And I did not feel like writing a fourth. Luckily I teach this stuff so I knew exactly what to do.

Rather than engage in frustrated thoughts where I worried about how late I’d have to work, or about how I should have done this or that differently, instead I got up and went and did dishes. I called up my best friend and stuck my hands in the warm water. In my relaxation and before she could even answer the phone, I realized something. I realized that I had another challenge that I had left un-thought-of because I currently had no solution. Now, in the quiet of my mind—where it was not distracted by any noisy frustrated thinking—these two issues found each other and they co-resolved. My friend and I agreed to talk later and I came back into my office to write this.

I have a lot of readers who come each day to the blog but they neither Follow it, nor do they belong to any social media like facebook, twitter, pinterest or tumblr. But they have expressed interest in what I think about things and, by extension, what things I think about. So their only regret about preferring as much electronic privacy as they have is that they miss out on the other posts I do on facebook that are not a part of the blog. These include links to articles, additional audio and video recordings, or even photos. I got asked to email these each month but that’s simply too prohibitive once there’s a certain number of people, but I think you can see where this is going anyway.

A lot of my friends tell me they count on me for a lot of the really cool and interesting stuff I find on the web. This year Fridays will be when I will post that week’s collection of any material I’ve found that relates to our pursuits here. The nice thing about this switch is that it makes the postings searchable, which is remarkably not possible on facebook.283 Relax and Succeed - There is one thing one has to have

So what will I include on Fridays? Well, I’ll design them to feel a bit like special discoveries. It will be a case where you never know what exactly you might find, but I’ll endeavour to ensure that you always feel it was worth it to have come. It might be an article on Buddhism or psychology. Or it might be a demonstration of love or an interview with someone who’s done something amazing. It might be some fascinating scientific detail or a medical discovery. It could be a beautiful song, a philosophical stand-up comic, or just a baby or a dog being really really funny. But they will all be things that will be chosen to stretch, challenge and create enjoyment and growth for your mind. They will always relate to what I’m doing here at Relax and Succeed. This new regular instalment will be called: The Friday Dose. I call it that because it’ll always be a dose of something tasty and good for you. Welcome to the First Edition.

We’ll begin with this beautiful story about love and loss, as a music star Fiona Apple demonstrates wonderful courage in what was surely a torrent of complaints, pressure and anger. I’m sure there was discussions of legalities, ethics and conscience, but by demonstrating the values of actual True Love, Fiona demonstrates a healthy kind of selfishness that the world could use more of:

Fiona Apple Cancels Tour

And I’ll also share this empowering piece on Matthieu Ricard, the Buddhist Monk whose brain scans demonstrated that he is the happiest man ever tested:

The Happiest Man on Earth

And if you like that, you might also want to check out this wonderfully engaging video of him:

The Habits of Happiness

Please feel free to email me any links you might find to relevant things, and always feel welcome to email me any feedback or requests you have relating to the blog or my social media.

Thank you for your time and attention. I trust you’ll find the postings as rewarding as I did. Enjoy.

peace. s

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help Enjoy. And please let me know if you bump into any broken links. Thanks!